Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Heart

Anyone who knows even a little bit about me knows I grew up in Chile. Most of those people know, that the reason for that was that my parents were missionaries there for 13 wonderful years. People who know me even better know how much I loved my life and that I truly believe that my parents calling extended to our family as a whole. As a missionaries kid (M.K.) I saw many people come through on short term mission trips. This was great, but a disturbing trend became evident to me at a very early age. In the church, there can be a religious culture that does not truly reflect the source from which it came. At a very young age I became disillusioned and frankly discussed with people 'witnessing' to non believers in very impersonal and ineffective ways. As a result of this I have developed a deep desire to always be very authentic and purposeful when sharing my faith. I believe I must earn the right to tell someone my story. I mean, why should they care what happened to me if they don't know me, and why should my story affect their life if I don't really know them. 
Please do not misunderstand me. I LOVE to tell the story of what God has done in my life! But HIS story is meaningful, and I don't want to lose people's interest by speaking out of turn. 
That being said, I want to tell the story of God thus far in the journey of one Emily Panter. Read at your pleasure ;).
I feel unbelievably blessed to have been born into a home where both of my parents were genuinely sold out for their creator, God. My father was a pastor and Mom stayed home with me and my two older brothers. By the time I turned 4 my mom had had two more sons; one who would be born with and eventually die of cancer at the very young age of 13 months. When I was five we they answered a heart stirring To go into full time missions, and we set off for Costa Rica for one year of language school on our way to Chile. We arrived on Chilean soil on August 16th, 1985, my parents 16th wedding anniversary. Being so young, I very quickly adapted to and fell in live with my new home. I loved being an M.K. and everything that came with it. I fully believed everything my parents had taught me about the Bible and all that it said about who God was. At the young age of 6, I distinctly remember understanding the concept of a perfect God and sinful man. I knew, that although my parents were missionaries, although I believed God was who He said He was, even though I was young and only guilty of sins such as fighting and lying; I understood that my sin disqualified me from God's presence and therefore heaven. I was haunted by this realization! I remember asking my mother daily if I was going to die while I slept. She would of course tell me that I was not going to die, but she couldn't know what was eating at me so much. I knew if I died, I would forever be separated from my parents and God whom I loved so much. I needed a Savior! She finally asked me why I was so worried, and when I told her, she asked if I'd like to talk to my dad about it. I said "Yes! Right now!" The matter was so pressing to me I would not be put off. My dad was in the bath! A convicted heart cannot stand it! I do not ever remember worrying about dying in my sleep again.
As I grew in my faith I began to learn that what I had done, was surrender my will to God's will. He needed to be my boss. I had good days and bad days but I look back on constant growth in my walk with God.
My 7th grade year, we were living in Punta Arenas (we had been for 4 years.) My parents told me we would be moving to the capital, Santiago, when we returned from our stateside furlough. The last thing I got to do with my classmates was go on a camping trip. During this trip, my best friend surrendered her life to God. When she told me, I was delighted, but also stricken with a deep sense of regret. I realized that my friend had become a Christian despite me and not because of me or my influence in her life. I thought of all my other friends whom I would no longer see. I vowed to never waste my time or friendships any longer. 
My time in Santiago was a HUGE time of growth for me and my walk. I attended a small Christian school and was very involved in leadership. I was also very involved in church. I remember my senior year. I felt strongly that I wanted to go where God wanted me to go. My two older brothers were in west Texas. I felt I needed to see how my faith would fair on its own.  I was accepted to Oklahoma Baptist University, but I felt strongly, once again, that I needed to see what my faith was made off. I wanted to be a light in darkness. I wanted to shine! I chose to go to Texas A&M-Commerce. This was a wonderful time of growth and stretching for me. It is also where I met Luke. We met and married in 15 months. We both felt called to ministry and knew God's plan involved us together. 
God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to add to our family quickly. Our Hannah was born only 18 months into our married adventure began. When Noah joined our circus, only 13 months later, we decided  Luke should get a full time plumbing job and I should stay home. This was a dream of mine, to raise my children, but that doesn't mean I was a natural at it or that it was easy.  After Abigail was born and Luke had started going back to Criswell College in the evenings, God opened an unexpected door for Luke to take a huge pay cut and "full time" pastor position at a small church in Tx. We stepped out on faith and have never looked back! During the seven wonderful years we spent there, God allowed me to stay home, be very active in our church, help start a community bible study group in Greenville, Tx and add two more fun loving girls to our bunch-Lily and Sarah. 
Sarah was born on October 26th, 2008 and two days after she was born, my 29 year old body suffered a ruptured aneurysm of thr right iliac artery. I will not recount that whole story (it is all in this blog side that is why it was created in the first place.) I will only say, that for two months God showed off big time! While all I did was literally lie in a bed and do NOTHING! I have never felt more used by God than at that time! People saw me and gave God all the glory. THAT is what I want my whole life to be about. 
Since that time God sent us to OK for a time and has recently called us to plant a church in Arizona. I want to be completely used up by God for His glory and His kingdom. I want to see lives transformed from the inside out. I want to have no regrets.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.